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Monday, February 27, 2017

Greatness in the Ordinary



I warned him I was going to post about this as he was bent over, pliers in hand, working to fix a delicate link of the chain in one of my favorite necklaces. He's not really a handyman, but he knows some things. We first met at a Christian camp where I was working after I graduated college. The year was 1994. He was a sailor visiting his parents who worked at the camp and our paths crossed at the same time. He wasn't there for long, but just long enough. Long enough for a spark to catch, long enough for a friendship to bud, and long enough to fix my broken curling iron. When he finished messing around with the contraption, he said, "Now say,'You're a good man, Charlie Brown'". "You're a good man, Charlie Brown", I repeated. 

I've said that often over the years and it always makes us grin. Greatness comes in all shapes and sizes. Greatness comes in all forms of kindness big and small. And greatness comes in the every day honest-to-goodness-ordinary.  

His greatness shines when he stops on the way home from a long day of college courses to buy flowers for me--just because. It shows when he texts me offering to pick up dinner somewhere when I've had a long day. His quiet ways speak the loudest in the natural ways of a genuinely kind person, in the every day. Whether he's working on a curling iron trying to impress me or bent over delicate chain links in a necklace to assist me, it matters to me. You're a good man, Charlie Brown. 

Friday, February 24, 2017

Traveling Far




"I don't know what he's going to do", I overheard my dad tell someone recently on the phone. The conversation was about my son Jonathan who recently finished his high school work at age 20. A little 'late'? Depends on who you ask. Over the last few years, I've been asked a lot about when he was going to graduate and what he wanted to do with the rest of his life. It took 'so long' to finish school due to deputation travels and health needs of my dad and ..well, just life. "Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans", a friend told me a long time ago. So true. Kids grow up way too fast these days anyway, and my husband and I both agreed that we were going to take our time to enjoy our son's childhood while we could and let him do the same. I'm not sure why it's important to have the sense that you have all things figured out at a young age. Honestly, my husband and I are in our mid 40's and are STILL figuring things out and God is STILL showing us His ways and guiding our steps. I got to thinking about that this past week...about God guiding our steps. I get apprehensive sometimes that maybe our son isn't 'keeping up'. And then I think, "Keeping up with what? And with whom??". The verse came to me this week and I was calmed when I read, "The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand." Psalm 37: 23, 24--Steps. That's it. One step at a time.


We should never feel rushed or pushed into doing something God isn't ready to show us yet. For now, Jonathan does know he wants to continue studying and possibly major in History. It's not 'set in stone' but he knows his interests, he knows his strengths and weaknesses and for now, the next step is to start community college with basic courses. You have to start there anyway whether you have a 'life plan' or not--with the basics. 

Another verse came to mind to me this morning as I was thinking about raising Jonathan and how John and I as parents feel really good about the way we went about it. Proverbs 22:6, "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." Now I've read all kinds of thoughts and interpretations to that verse, but "in the way he should go" caught my eye in a different way than just the spiritual implications. Jonathan wasn't a strong willed child. He didn't need challenges to keep him occupied, or projects he could dominate and get aggression out. He didn't need a lot of outside activities such as sports involvement or clubs to belong to. This one was a homebody. More gentle, a reader, a thinker, a caregiver. Steady. We didn't try to make him 'fit' into a certain crowd or man-made mold. We saw these gifts early on and helped him develop these with care, love, and even discipline. We've lived with my dad for over 10 years now and I think Jonathan's development has been influenced by being raised in a multi-generational home. And for the better. My husband, my dad, and I all feel satisfied that we took our time and let God show us how to raise this boy of ours. 

In our life, God has never shown us miles at a time of what He wanted us to do and where He wanted us to go. Just the basic, "Follow Me". Our journey has not been like anyone else's because, simply, it's ours. We've traveled far little by little- both in spiritual miles and in physical miles of where we thought we'd be after nearly 22 years of marriage and now having a college aged son. We've walked them step by step and believe God has been through it all and will continue to be. It's always been one stepping stone at a time and sometimes the next step takes us by surprise. Jonathan's next step may take us all by surprise, but if he follows the Lord, his path will be good and right and just in time.

"Hold up my goings in thy paths, that my footsteps slip not." Psalm 17:5

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Smallest of Details





" ..Beauty can offer healing; that paying attention, even to fleeting glimpses of the mere suggestion of new creation, is deeply restorative...It is quite possible to see and not really see, to hear and not really hear...When Jesus asks the world to consider the lilies, to consider beauty in the midst of all the ashes around us, his request is full of promise, for he is both the Source of beauty and its Subject", Jill Carattini (http://rzim.org/a-slice-of-infinity/consider-the-lilies-3/)

Luke 12:
23 The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment.
24 Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls?
25 And which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit?
26 If ye then be not able to do that thing which is least, why take ye thought for the rest?
27 Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
28 If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith?


I can't even imagine the opulence of King Solomon "in all his glory" (Luke 12:27) - Our minds probably couldn't even comprehend what he possessed in his palace or storehouses. Yet, the lily is much more exquisite that anything Solomon owned. Jesus wants us to be aware of how the ravens are fed with very little effort on their part. And He wants us to examine the beauty of the lily and its Source. 

Jill Carattini writes in this article (link in the first paragraph), "Paying attention to the ephemeral [or short-lived] is in and of itself restorative because it is paying attention to him. Here, both the anxiety-addicted and the attention-overloaded can find solace in a different sort of kingdom: one in which there is room for the paradox of a fleeting world with eternity in its heart."

I have been posting a few things about what I've been learning about contentment through my Bible study this month and I came across this very good and thought-provoking article. Why pay attention to something so small as a bird or a flower? Sometimes, life lessons aren't learned through the big things, but in the every day, in what's right in front of us, in the smallest of details.


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

"Wanters"




I don't always have time to sit down to type out at length some of the things I've been studying. And sometimes, short and sweet is the way to go anyway, right? Sometimes. I do like to share here because maybe something that I post will be of benefit to someone else. It has nothing to do with me and everything to do with God and the channels He uses to love, teach, and grow us. I go back and forth with whether or not I should keep writing and posting, but it seems when I doubt the most, a friend will write me a personal message encouraging me along the way. Part of the struggle is with this particular site. I have issues with posting photos and the way this site works in general. I'm considering posting with another website host.  We'll see. 

When I find myself feeling guided to share, but only have a few minutes, I will post a quick note in a 'Midweek Minutes' section. Some will be a little shorter than this one and will only take a few minutes to read. 






"But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out."
I Timothy 6:6-7.

I heard my sister say once that when she looks at sale ads in the newspaper or online, she tends to get her 'wanters' up. I have my 'wanters up' a lot...I want new clothes, a kitchen makeover, more craft supplies (and storage to put them in!), a landscaped backyard, a nice paid vacation..the list could go on. So what do I do when I catch myself wanting too much than I can afford at the moment..and I know it's too much? I have to be careful that my 'wanters' don't cloud my judgment, that my 'wanters' don't bring me away from my faith in God, and that the love of money/things doesn't 'pierce...through with many sorrows' (I Tim. 6:10). It happens that way ..the piercing through with sorrows...I've seen it before. 

How do I avoid the piercing and the sorrow brought by discontentment? What do I look for instead? "Follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness"..(I Tim. 6:11) Pursuing the character of God will bring great gain ..whether I am blessed with my list of 'wanters' or not. In I. Timothy 6:20, Paul encourages Timothy to "keep that which is committed to thy trust." For me, while that verse may have had a different significance for Timothy, I want to apply this thought of keeping, managing, enjoying what has been put in my trust and going after the valuable and eternal.